Anyone in the Te Puke area who is fit to work and wants a job can probably have one tomorrow, says Seeka chief executive Michael Franks.
He was commenting on the relaunch of its wholesale and distribution service SeekaFresh on September 30 at its rebranded centre in Mt Wellington, Auckland.
“SeekaFresh is a revitalised aspect of our business,” Franks told Hort News. “We are taking produce that we grow and other produce grown in New Zealand and supplying it through our wholesale operations and supplying it to supermarkets and independent stores.
“It is creating a market for local produce.”
They also import tropical and other fruits, depending on what the market is requiring.
“As growers this move gives us the full supply chain, so we are growing on the orchards and on the land, and we have our own infrastructure for processing and packing fruit. The SeekaFresh refresh connects us through to the market.
“We export out of that business as well so it is a completion of the value chain.”
He says the company is exporting kiwifruit and avocados to Australia and across Asia, and kiwiberries to Australia and Japan.
“SeekaFresh is the division that does that in our business.”
Franks says there is a big advantage for growers in being better connected to the market.
“First it provides a leaner supply chain without multiple margins [being] taken.
“At times as growers we will modify our harvest depending on what is happening in the market. For example, in the case of avocados, if the market is calling for large fruit we will selectively pick to get the fruit the market is looking for to deliver our growers an optimal return.
“We will be far more market focused as a result of having this business in our tent.”
As growers it is better if you are connected all the way to the market, he says.
“Having that grower focus is all about getting as much money back to the grower as possible so that is why the whole system is sustainable.”
Seeka is investing in digital systems to deliver a smoother and more efficient supply line.
“But in this game and this part of the world we are not connecting to the consumer. We are selling through the supply chain to someone who sells to the consumer and so we are not treating fruit or produce as a fast moving consumer good.
“This is all about relationships. With Seeka you are getting extremely good produce and the people who buy from us are going to make money.”
New face for new look
The launch reflects the revitalisation of Seeka’s fresh produce business which provides a variety of locally grown and imported seasonal fruit and vegetables to wholesalers and retailers.
The rebrand follows Verena Cunningham’s appointment as general manager SeekaFresh. A number of appointments have been made in SeekaFresh’s business as it responds to increased customer demand.
Cunningham has 20 years of extensive industry and professional services experience across business management, transactions and operations including positions at T&G, Ernst & Young and Bayer CropScience/Bayer AG, both in New Zealand and overseas.
She is also a director of the Produce Marketing Association (PMA) for Australia and New Zealand.
SeekaFresh is a key part of Seeka’s retail services operation, marketing local and imported produce in New Zealand.